Effects of an Arctic under-ice bloom on solar radiant heating of the water column
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The deposition of solar energy in the upper Arctic Ocean depends, among other things, on the composition of the water column. During the N-ICE2015 expedition, a drift in the Arctic pack ice north of Svalbard, an under-ice phytoplankton bloom was encountered in May 2015. This bloom led to significant changes in the inherent optical properties (IOPs) of the upper ocean. Mean values of total water absorption in the upper 20 m of the water column were up to 4 times higher during the bloom than prior to it. The total water attenuation coefficient increased by a factor of up to around 7. Radiative transfer modeling, with measured IOPs as input, has been performed with a coupled atmosphere-ice-ocean model. Simulations are used to investigate the change in depth-dependent solar heating of the ocean after the onset of the bloom, for wavelengths in the region 350–700 nm. Effects of clouds, sea ice cover, solar zenith angle, as well as the average cosine for scattering of the ocean inclusions are evaluated. An increase in energy absorption in the upper 10 m of about 36% is found under 25 cm ice with 2 cm snow, for bloom conditions relative to prebloom conditions, which may have implications for ice melt and growth in spring. Thicker clouds and lower sun reduce the irradiance available, but lead to an increase in relative absorption.